Thanks to Fritz Zweigelt’s 1922 historical creation we now have the varietal aptly known as zweigelt (zv eye-gelt). A crossing of two indigenous varietals, blaufrankish and st. laurent, it was created with the hopes of withstanding frost and disease, and be an earlier ripening grape. Known for all of these features, it is now the most widely planted red varietal in all of Austria. It has even reached parts of eastern Germany. Across the board the character of zweigelt is one of a dark, dense core, rounded structure and aromatics of bright, red cherry fruit. Most of the zweigelt vineyards are now just coming of age. Remember this is a new varietal; you only get to make changes once a year. With that in mind the aging potential is not fully clear. But, I feel with a little more time we will begin to see high-class Zweigelts being put through the test of time and fairing extremely well. There are even some experiments happening that include the blending of zweigelt and blaufrankish. Think of Bordeaux with cabernet and merlot, zweigelt being the merlot. So, with all of that said, here are some wines that will help get your feet wet in the zweigelt pool. 2004 Berger Blauer Zweigelt 1L ($13.99) Yes, a ONE LITER! An easy going, gulpable little bugger that is racy, lush and just down-right fun. By all means, do not consider this wine to be a weak interpretation of the varietal in any way!!!! 2003 Iby Zweigelt Classic ($11.99) This is the Austrian equivalent of a good spicy Cotes du Rhone. Lots of berry notes (you know, the aroma of a crushed summer strawberry that smacks you in the face), and mild tannins make it a fun summer wine when paired with foods from the grill. It is light enough for picnics, too! 2003 Paul Lehrner Claus ($16.99) A blend of 75% zweigelt and 15% blaufrankish, The Claus is a wine with a very subtle bit of tannin due to the addition of the blaufrankish, and a dark, sappy core of lush, juicy fruit that throws out hints of delicate herbs surrounded by a thin coat of smokiness, which will keep you sniffing deeper and deeper into the glass. A happy drinker! —Eric Story
The Fairview estate in South Africa does an amazing job of creating wines with style, character and value. Made from a blend of syrah, grenache, cinsault and merlot, the 2006 Goats do Roam Rosé ($7.99) has vibrant aromatics of ripe strawberry and watermelon that follow on the palate with a round mouth feel, good acidity and length. The 2004 Bored Doe ($9.99) is a blend of 48% merlot, 28% cabernet sauvignon, 13% malbec and 11% petite verdot. Notes of dark plum, cherry and currant with a hint of licorice and smoke are finely balanced with a fine finish. The 2005 Goat Door Chardonnay ($10.99) sees partial barrel and malolactic fermentation. After six months in tank and neutral French oak, the wine is blended. On the nose there is subtle oak nuances with hazelnut and notes of pineapple, baked apple, citrus and spice. There is good balancing acidity with a long finish. We were lucky to get Phil Christiansen once again to fashion a great Shiraz as he did in 2002. The 2004 Kirkham Peak Shiraz McLaren Vale South Australia ($15.99) is classic McLaren Vale juice with cassis, blueberry, toffee, chocolate and spice. The oak influence is subtle with a combination of French and American oak of which 10% is new. On the palate, there is great purity to the fruit with good acidity and silky soft supple tannins. There is great balance and structure reflecting the fine 2004 vintage in Australia. —Jimmy C
This month I have two very different wines. First up, a sparkling pink Bugey from Cerdon which, in my wine world is synonymous with “Look out, good times up ahead!” Next, a K&L staff favorite, Marselan from Domaine l’Attilon, is back in the house! Read on! NV Cerdon de Bugey (methode ancestrale), Caveau de Mont St. July ($14.99) Spontaneous fermentation. An altogether preferable scenario to spontaneous combustion, and A LOT more fun to drink. This pink, semi dry bubbly was made by spontaneous fermentation, otherwise known as methode ancestrale. Grapes are picked by hand (not just any grapes, these are the local poulsard and gamay grown on mountainous slopes in the shadow of the Alps), and fermented in chilled vats just reaching 5 or 6 degrees alcohol. The young and light wine is then bottled, along with its active yeast and considerable unfermented sugars. Under pressure of the cork, the wine continues to ferment, gaining a few degrees of alcohol but retaining a nice amount of sweetness. And the bubbles, of course, another result of fermentation under pressure. This one is so delicious and fun to drink, with a distinctly, well, grapey aroma and a fruitiness that calls out for celebration and jubilation. This is also wonderful served with spicy Indian takeout or a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips! 2004 VdP des Bouches du Rhône Marselan Domaine l’Attilon (ORGANIC) ($8.99) Marselan, a cross between cabernet sauvignon and grenache, is a new grape variety. Domaine l’Attilon’s organic version of this new cepage is bursting with bright, crunchy black currant and cherry fruit balanced by violet floramatics and a vibrant acidity. Another terrific value from the south of France! —Mulan Chan
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